Are You Being Sold a Solution or a Dream?

Sales has always had two sides, honest and questionable. Dating back to the latter part of the 19th century, “snake oil” has been used as a negative description for the curious tonics sold from street carts and back-page newspaper ads as health remedies.   

It may come as a surprise to learn that snake oil was at one time a positive product and term. In its day, genuine snake oil provided a benefit to those who used it properly.* Over time, individuals and companies saw an opportunity to capitalize on the public’s response. They made concoctions of questionable content and sold them under the title Snake Oil.

In today’s complex and technologically advanced landscape, merchants’ needs escalated. Along with that, so have the rampant sales of “hopes and dreams,” disguised as solutions. Modern day “snake oil” sales have flooded all markets. With a quick Google search you’ll find multiple articles related to “How to Sell a Dream, Not a Product Or Service”. The question arises, how do you protect yourself and company from being sold a shady elixir when selecting an Affiliate Management Agency?

First thing’s first, do some homework! Whether you were sent in the direction of an agency from an existing partner or found them through a search, it’s imperative you understand their reputation before scheduling that first call. Similar to consumers, merchants don’t hesitate to hit the internet when they’ve been part of a positive or negative partnership. Search for reviews to find if their reputation precedes them. It’s worth the time to review any media coverage or industry mentions related to the agencies you’re speaking with.

Also, be wary of promises made with no questions asked. The affiliate marketing space is a complex one. Many articles can be found online related to the ease of starting a program with individuals making millions. However, many significant factors need to be taken into consideration when projecting the growth and success of your affiliate program.  If speaking with an agency leaves you feeling as though you’ve been bulldozed by industry terminology, left with no understanding of the process and no connection to your company, it may not be the right fit for you. Instead, it will connect with your company’s needs and provide details prior to any partnership being put in place.  The end goal of a solid agency is to grow your program and build a long-term partnership.

Don’t consider “there’s no way to know” an answer!  While there is no finite way to determine exactly how much revenue you can expect through your affiliate program, solid agencies can set clear expectations for you.  There are many factors involved in your program’s success. Success includes product quality, traffic, site quality, solid tech platforms, etc. You’ll often hear there is simply no way to tell; that is incorrect.  If an agency is truly interested in growing your program they will be willing to do the initial research. They will weigh the options, survey your site, product and vertical and determine a projection for which you can set your expectations.  “No way to tell” simply means they aren’t confident in their efforts.

Simply put, if you want to be sure you’re not being sold snake oil, it takes more than viewing the back of the bottle for ingredients.  Ask questions, have expectations and be willing to do the legwork to ensure the agency is the right partner for you.

If you have additional questions regarding our article or would be interested in speaking with a member of our team please don’t hesitate to contact us.

*Snake oil was originally introduced in the U.S. by Chinese workers in the 1800’s, having been made from Chinese water snake oil

Learn more about the History of Snake Oil salesmen at


Submitted by: Melissa Corless, Business Development Director